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How to produce a Google Map in minutes with FM Atlas


When breaking news happens, it helps to have a map that points out where the incident happened. FMAtlas is one of many third-party applications that allows users to simply plot points on a Google Map and embed it in any website. In addition, the site also has wiki functionality so users can add and edit points on the map (optional). A complete tutorial on using FMAtlas after the jump:

Setting up the map

To begin, go to fmatlas.com and click “Create an account” and create a username and password. After the form is completed, a map will appear. Before plotting points, click on “Edit Map Properties.” A window will appear that offers several options including enabling user contributions, which can also be moderated, enabling wiki-style editing and moderating user contributions.

Another option is to show or hide the sidebar, which is a list of the headlines of points that are plotted on the map. Whether it is turned on or off depends totally on the project.

The next step is define the width and height of the map. By default, FMAtlas pads the map with 25 pixels. So if you want a map with a width and height of 400 x 300, you should enter 375 x 275.

You can also input values for the info window width and height. This controls the size of the balloon that pops up when a point is clicked. Ideally, these dimensions should be large enough for the window to be legible, but small enough so the window doesn’t cover the entire map.

FMAtlas offers a number of icons to be used on the map. Smaller icons should be used for small maps or maps with numerous points. You can create different icons on the same map by plotting the first point(s) and then clicking “Edit Map Properties” again and changing the icon.

Another important option is “Zoom Control.” The “large” option enables a slide tool to zoom in and out of the map. The small control uses + and – as controls.

Once you are done with the map settings, click save.

Plotting points

You can zoom in or out, move the map and plot points simply by clicking on the location you desire. If you are not sure where the point should be or want to add a specific address or intersection, type the location into the input box near the top of the screen. Latitude and longitude can also be plotted in this box ex: (37.874881, -122.259730)

Points can also be plotted in FMAtlas using a CSV file. To create this file, create an Excel spreadsheet that contains the addresses to be plotted. In the file menu, click “Save as…” and select CSV.

In FMAtlas, click “Bulk Upload” above the map. Give the map a name and in the second field, locate the CSV file to be uploaded. Select “Add.”

FMAtlas also allows the user to search by business name, but as there are billions of businesses in the world, some with the same, this is a less reliable option. Even less reliable is the Wikipedia option which allows the user to search Wikipedia entries and plot them on the map.

Embedding the map

Periodic saving is encouraged. Give the map a name and click save near the bottom of the screen. When the map is finished, click Embed. FMAtlas offers an URL and a KML (Google Earth file) that you can link to. Most importantly, the service offers an embed code that can be placed into an HTML file.

The map can be changed and updated at any time without changing the embed code, unless the dimensions of the map are changed.

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